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The Doubting Process: A Longitudinal Study of the Precipitants and Consequences of Religious Doubt in Older Adults

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Religious doubt arises from a process in which there is a precipitant, the experience of doubt, a coping response, and a health-related outcome. We assess whether social factors precipitate doubt and the coping responses that are invoked to deal with doubt. We evaluate whether these coping responses are, in turn, associated with health. Over time, people who encounter more negative interaction with fellow congregants have more doubts about religion, whereas more spiritual support and greater involvement in prayer groups are associated with less religious doubt. People who encounter more negative interaction are more likely to suppress religious doubts, but people who attend Bible study groups are more likely to seek spiritual growth when faced with doubt. Suppressing religious doubt is associated with less favorable health, whereas seeking spiritual growth has no significant effect.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Public Health University of Michigan 2: Department of Sociology University of Texas at Austin

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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